Friday, August 19, 2011

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#4) by J.K. Rowling


*** Warning: This review contains spoilers! ***

In high school, my creative writing teacher once told the class, "Never give up an opportunity to describe a scene." J.K. Rowling must have gotten the same advice at some point because, seriously, 734 pages for a children's book!?!

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I thoroughly and completely enjoyed immersing myself in the wizarding world! I think the first time I read this book, all the teenage drama really annoyed me. For some reason, though - maybe because the movie did such a great job bringing that drama to life - I didn't mind it all this time around. I dare say I even liked it.

More than any other Harry Potter book so far, The Goblet of Fire had a whole lot going on. Aside from all the usual suspects and school-related activities, J.K. Rowling also gave us the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament, S.P.E.W., Rita Skeeter, Ludo Bagman, and Barty Crouch! I'm pretty sure that the first time I read the book, I couldn't even keep Bagman and Crouch straight. This time, I had a better understanding of the big picture, plus I kept track of all my questions, and happily everything was answered in the end. And what an ending it was! For a few pages there, I actually had tears in my eyes.

I like, too, that in this book, Harry received some words of wisdom, some good life lessons, from the adults around him. After the episode in the graveyard, Dumbledore tells Professor McGonagall that Harry should hear what Barty Crouch, Jr. has to say because, "Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery." And in the face of Voldemort's return, Hagrid tells Ron, Hermione, and Harry, "No good sittin' worryin' abou' it. What's comin' will come, an' we'll meet it when it does."

One thing keeps bugging me, though... There seemed to be one glaring flaw in the basic premise of the whole book. Barty-Crouch-Jr.-disguised-as-Mad-Eye-Moody bewitching the Triwizard Cup into a Portkey and then going to extreme lengths to ensure that Harry Potter would compete, not die, and even win the Triwizard Cup seemed excessively complex. Why didn't the fake Moody just turn, say, a book in his office into a Portkey. Then, when the timing was right, he could simply invite Harry into his office for a chat, and in the course of the visit, say to Harry, "Can you pass me that book please?" Easy peasy! And Cedric Diggory wouldn't have had to die!

Also, once again, I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed when a defining scene in the movie wasn't in the book. In particular, I wish the book had Neville giving Harry the gillyweed, and I thought the way in which the movie had Karkaroff outing Barty Crouch, Jr. was more dramatic than the way it unfolded in the book.

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